5 things I think I think about today’s St. Pete Times and other media

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Here’s a perfect example of ‘pro-am’ journalism…

At 6:50 p.m. on Friday, I tweeted a piece of news I had been tracking down all day:

@saintpetersblog: Report: BayWalk sold to new developers, good guys. #stpete

Quite honestly, I received confirmation about this story from a longtime friend who I first met during my days at Derby Lane.  Dude is a serious player and so when he shared with me the details of what was going on, I knew he wasn’t bullshittin’ me.

Unfortunately, because it was a Friday night and I was out-and-about, I would not be able to do much more than Tweet about the story. So that’s when I called a couple of my friends in the traditional media, including Michael Van Sickler.

Voila: Van Sickler’s story ‘Bill Edwards poised to buy struggling BayWalk.’ Michael was even kind enough to call and thank me.

That’s how it’s done folks.

More kudos to Van Sickler for breaking the news about the St. Petersburg Firefighters endorsing all of the incumbents, including Wengay Newton, brother of union chief Winthrop union.

It’s a kudos Saturday, with these going to my blogging colleague Joy Reid, who writes eloquently about the opportunity to appear on the same broadcast as Brian Williams:

When I was growing up, my mother watched the broadcast network news every single night, bouncing back and forth between Walter Cronkite and then after junior high school, Dan Rather on CBS, NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw, and occasionally Peter Jennings on ABC. I would sit up with her and watch “Nightline” with Ted Koppel every weeknight, right through high school. (She was no longer around, unfortunately, for the Brian Williams era at NBC.) We were what you might call a broadcast news household. Never missed it. Of the things I’ve gotten the chance to do so far, I have to think my mother would have been the most excited about this very short clip on the NBC Nightly News.

The Tampa Tribune publishes a profile about Rick Scott’s Chief of Staff the day after the St. Petersburg Times publishes a profile about Rick Scott’s Chief of Staff.  Are the two newspapers now sharing assignment editors?

Mihir Zaveri discloses in the first graf that he wrote his essay on the state of journalism after drinking three bottles of BridgePort Kingpin Double Red Ale. (“For some reason my journalistic passion rears itself much more coherently after some level of inebriation,” the UC-Berkeley student tells me in an email.) His point is that it’s not the fault of Craigslist or the blogosphere that newspaper journalism has been turned upside down.

All of that stuff is on us, the journalists. It’s our fault. Our job was to report the news, and we did that. But we got complacent, and we stopped evolving, and soon the concept of a news article became far removed from what you, as a person, valued. Now we find ourselves in an awkward position where an indispensable component of democracy is slipping away, and we’re scrambling.

“We, as journalists, need to be in your face all the time,” the UC-Berkeley student tells his readers. Newspapers need to be transparent — “You need to know who the editors are, where they come from and what they value” — and their journalists need to be out in the community. “We need to hold public meetings where you can come and talk to us about what we do and tell us what you like and what you don’t so that we can be better. We need to better serve you.”

At last weekend’s Society of Features Editors convention, veteran editor and educator Tim McGuire shared his thoughts on what newspapers are up againstin the digital era:

I am afraid I am operating under the impression that Google, Groupon, Apple, Facebook and Twitter, new media startups and scores of garage entrepreneurs are out innovating newspapers on a daily basis. I am afraid I find little newspaper innovation breath-taking. I guess I am convinced that risk-takers without the mindset boundaries of newspapering are legitimate threats to newspaper survival.

If you believe I have a point I hope you’ll consider that if journalism is to be saved by newspaper practitioners, the hand cuffs must come off. We can’t think like newspaper people anymore.

We have to have the open minds of entrepreneurs. We have to have the innovative imaginations of liberated explorers. We have to embrace risk like bungee jumpers. We have to listen to young people as if they are our saviors, because they probably are.

The highlight of the week in local media is still Eric Deggans’ sparring with former Florida House Speaker Johnnie Byrd on WEDU’s Florida This Week.

On Friday, I taped a segment with former Florida House Speaker Johnnie Byrd where we tlaked quite a bit about Gov. Rick Scott‘s ideology and how it may be tripping up his governance. Byrd likely has a lot more in commmon with Scott’s positions than I do — he has written that government is so devoted to taking care of citizens economically it is “taking from a productive citizen and giving to an unproductive one.”

But, we were able to disagree agreeably — particularly on the subject of drug testing for welfare recipients. (Byrd suggested the low incidents of positives — at about 2 percent — may be because users aren’t applying for benefits; I say the levels of illegal drug use probably weren’t that high to begin with. Getting welfare takes too much work for many serious addicts.)

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.